Supporting and Enhancing Existing Amtrak Downeaster Service
Initiatives and programs under consideration.
The NNEPRA team is committed to the sustained growth of the Amtrak Downeaster and is exploring innovative ways to improve mobility, advance safety, support a growing economy, and provide value for the people of Maine and Northern New England. Over the course of 2020, NNEPRA will focus on the following initiatives:
Inbound Commuter Service
Capacity improvements to improve reliability will soon be underway. In March 2020, NNEPRA was awarded federal funding to complete the Wells Siding Project which not only adds track capacity, but supports a new morning inbound Downeaster train between Wells and Brunswick. This will give workers in Maine more car-free travel options for their commute. The Project is in the final stages of design, and is expected to be completed in 2023.
Portland Station Improvements
NNEPRA, in cooperation with MaineDOT, is exploring Portland station alternates on the mainline. The current station, located on a branch line, requires Downeaster trains to stop and back into the station for more than a mile, adding time to the schedule. Mainline alternatives will improve Downeaster connectivity to and within the greater Portland region by reducing travel time, decreasing bottlenecks, and improving transit connections.
West Falmouth/Exit 53 Station Stop
NNEPRA is exploring an additional Downeaster stop in West Falmouth, located just off Exit 53 of I-95. This new stop will provide improved connectivity from the I-95 corridor and reduce parking demand in Portland.
Amtrak Downeaster Coastal Connection
A pilot program to introduce seasonal weekend Downeaster service to Bath, Wiscasset, Newcastle and Rockland has been suspended.
Planning initiatives that explore the potential for new passenger rail services in Maine:
Lewiston/Auburn Passenger Rail Service Plan
NNEPRA managed for MaineDOT a Service Plan for commuter rail service between L/A and Portland which identified ridership potential, outlined corridor options and estimated costs. Next steps include an economic evaluation to explore how investment in rail service could benefit the region and is under consideration of the MaineDOT.
Portland-Westbrook Rail Shuttle Feasibility Study
In partnership with private developers, NNEPRA completed a high-level feasibility study of a rail shuttle between Westbrook and Portland, connecting high-density developments with the downtown and local transit options.
NNEPRA appreciates the financial support provided by the State of Maine, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), as well as Pan Am Railways, the MBTA and Amtrak, that enables us to plan and execute projects to improve reliability, enhance safety, and expand service.